The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission said Thursday that the five retail facilities that have received Maryland sports betting licenses will be scheduling “controlled demonstrations” before launching by the end of the month.Two other facilities — Riverboat on the Potomac and Long Shot’s in Frederick — have met the requirements for sports wagering licenses and will be forwarded to the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC), which is responsible for awarding the licenses, the MLGCC announced Thursday.
“Controlled demonstrations are an important final step before sports wagering opens to the public,” Maryland Lottery and Gaming Director John Martin said in a news release. “They serve as a dress rehearsal for the facilities and their staffs, and they allow Maryland Lottery and Gaming to assure the public that these operations are ready to go.
“Everything is on pace for the first public openings to happen in December,” Martin said. “The facilities and the public are eager to get started, and so are we.”
The progress to launching sports betting and expanding Maryland online gambling has been slow and often criticized by Gov. Larry Hogan and other key stakeholders, including Martin.
The state is focusing on launching retail sports betting while acknowledging that mobile sports licensing will not likely to happen until 2022. The target for online sports betting is before or during the 2022 Maryland NFL betting season.
Two groups have to review and approve sports betting applications in Maryland — the MLGCC and the SWARC.
Five Retail Sites Getting Close
The five facilities reaching the testing stage:
- Hollywood Casino in Perryville;
- Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore;
- Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover;
- MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill;
- Ocean Downs Casino in Berlin.
The five were awarded sports betting licenses by the SWARC on Nov. 18. The news release said MLGCC staff will be working with officials from those operations to schedule the demonstrations.
The two days of testing must be successfully completed and is considered the last step before the retail sportsbooks can begin taking bets. The MLGCC said the facilities can invite guests to conduct live wagering with regulators present.
2 New Candidates to Consider
The Riverboat on the Potomac and Long Shot’s were among the 17 sports betting entities identified in the state’s law, pending a license review.
The minority-owned Riverboat on the Potomac is actually moored at Colonial Beach, Virginia, in the Potomac River, but the sportsbook, restaurant and other facilities are located in Charles County, over the Maryland state line.
Riverboat on the Potomac announced a partnership with Australia-based PointsBet, an online gambling company, in June. PointsBet will provide retail and online sports wagering, if it receives the necessary regulatory approvals.
Long Shot’s, an off-track betting facility, is in Frederick. According to the news release, both facilities have minority and female owners, and “support the legislative intent of the sports wagering law to create an inclusive and diverse market.”
“We’re extremely happy to see these two locally owned businesses move forward, and we’re eager to continue working with them in the coming weeks to launch their sports wagering operations,” Martin said.
Maryland Lottery and Gaming operates the state lottery and oversees casinos and the sports wagering program in Maryland.